Nineteen items of private members’ business were debated on Wednesday, including bills, orders for papers and general motions.
The following private members’ bills were debated:
The bill, introduced by Mr Roberts (One Nation Party), seeks to amend the Crimes Act 1900 by providing for mandatory minimum sentencing for assaults against law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, medical practitioners, nurses or midwifes.
Mr Roberts argued that the bill would better protect emergency service workers from acts of violent and aggressive behaviour and would be a stronger deterrent to potential offenders. He stated that section 60 of the Act would be expanded to establish three tiers of offences against emergency services workers:
- tier 1 – assaults that do not result in actual bodily harm
- tier 2 – assaults that occasion actual bodily harm
- tier 3 – assaults that result in wounding or grievous bodily harm.
The new section 60 would require a court to impose a sentence on a person found guilty of a second tier 2 offence or first tier 3 offence. For first offences under tier 1 and tier 2, sentencing will still remain at the court’s discretion. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Mr Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party), seeks to amend the Dividing Fences Act 1991 to ensure that the Crown, councils, road authorities and WaterNSW will be liable to pay landowners for dividing fence work.
Mr Banasiak stated that currently the Government has no legal obligation in respect to the building or repair of boundary fences of Crown land that adjoins private property. He noted recent one-off grants by the Government in respect to damage caused by the summer bushfires and referred to the final report of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry which made recommendations that ‘there is a clear need to develop a shared understanding of what it means to be a good neighbour, regardless of land tenure’. In addition to damage to boundary fences caused by natural disasters, Mr Banasiak stated that the bill will create a legislative obligation between the Government and private landowners to maintain boundary fences in instances of damage caused by stock grazing on travelling stock routes. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Mr Shoebridge (The Greens), seeks to include the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer, icare, as a government agency for the purposes of the public tender and procurement processes in the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912.
Mr Shoebridge argued there was an urgent need for the bill, referencing the recent allegations of improper conduct by icare in the procurement of goods and services. Mr Shoebridge contended that icare has spent large amounts of public money without adherence to proper standards of procurement or transparent tender processes. He stated that icare should be required to comply with long standing legislation, designed to place obligations on government agencies to adhere to certain standards. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Debate briefly resumed on Revd Mr Nile’s (Christian Democratic Party) bill to amend the Crimes Act 1900 in relation to criminal acts resulting in the ‘serious harm to or the destruction of an unborn child’. Minister Tudehope (Liberal Party) spoke on the bill indicating that while the Government supports the principle of the bill, it cannot support the bill in its current form. He advised that the Government would instead be introducing its own bill to ensure justice for unborn children and their families who are the victims of assaults, dangerous driving and other negligent acts. Debate was then adjourned.
The following general motions were debated:
- Deputy Premier (Ms Sharpe, Labor) – Motion agreed to on division (23 votes to 17) noting comments by Liberal Party ministers about the Deputy Premier and expressing concern that the Government are distracted by issues of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Victory in the Pacific Day (Mr Khan, Nationals) – Conclusion of debate on motion noting that 15 August 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific. Members joined to support the motion.
- Rail Freight (Ms Boyd, The Greens) – Motion agreed to on division (23 votes to 17), as amended by the Opposition and One Nation Party, noting that rail is the most efficient mode of transporting freight and calling on the Government to explore various rail freight projects.
- Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean VC (Mr Amato, Liberal Party) – Motion agreed to acknowledging the bravery and sacrifice of Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean who went down with his ship, the HMAS Armidale, in 1942 firing on Japanese aircraft in order to save his fellow crewmen.
- Western Sydney Aerotropolis land use and infrastructure plan (Mr Latham, One Nation Party) – Motion agreed to on division (20 votes to 15) noting the release of this final plan and condemning the Government for prioritising a metro line to the airport over a fast rail link.
- CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (Mr Farraway, Nationals) – Motion agreed to noting that the telescope is an iconic tourist attraction and celebrating that the site has been added to the National Heritage List.
Orders for papers motions
The following eight orders for papers were debated and agreed to:
- The Stronger Communities Fund (Mr Graham, Labor) – 18 September 2020
- Infrastructure and Job Acceleration Fund (Mr Searle, Labor) – due 7 October 2020
- Procurement by transport agencies (Mr Searle, Labor) – due 4 November 2020
- NSW Commercial Fisheries Business Adjustment Program Barclay Report (Mr Veitch, Labor) – due 7 October 2020
- Facilities Condition Index ASP FCI Analysis Reports (Mrs Houssos) – due 7 October 2020
- State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 Correspondence (Mr Field, Independent) – due 23 September 2020
- Claims for asbestos related diseases (Mr Buttigieg, Labor) – due 7 October 2020
- Wages Policy Taskforce (Mr Searle, Labor) – 30 September 2020.
In addition an order concerning the conduct of the Long Service Corporation (Mr Searle, Labor) was agreed to during formal business. The return is due on 7 October 2020.
The following order for papers was debated and negatived:
- Video footage of greyhound races (Mr Pearson, Animal Justice Party)
Returns to orders roundtable
During formal business the House also passed a motion by Mr Searle (Labor) noting the concerns and frustrations expressed by the Independent Legal Arbiter, the Hon Keith Mason AC QC, in successive reports to the House regarding the nature and extent of privilege claims made by the Executive in orders for papers.
The motion called for the President to convene and chair a roundtable meeting before the end of the 2020 parliamentary sitting calendar to consider these concerns.
The House returns today for another sitting week. Stay tuned for our next sitting week update.